May 9th, 1999
Mike Stanton Starts Game
Mike Stanton has been a very effective reliever for many years, appearing in every post-season from 1991 through 2002 for the Braves, Red Sox, Rangers, and Yankees. Stanton accumulated a 5-2 record in those post seasons appearances with a 2.10 ERA in more than 55 innings, including 3-0, 1.54 in the World Series. Stanton was pretty good in the regular season too. Although it's tempting to say he's hung on too long, Stanton has a 2.40 ERA so far this year for the Nats, bringing his career ERA down to a more-than-respectable 3.78.
That career ERA has come in more than a thousand games--he's the active leader and has a chance this season to move into the top five all-time--but this day in May was the only time ever that Stanton started a game. Caught short of a starter, the Yankees (managed by Don Zimmer filling in for Joe Torre who was recovering from prostate cancer) decided to have the rarely-seen "bullpen start." It worked as Stanton went four shutout innings, Jason Grimsley came in and gave up a run over his four innings and Mariano Rivera preserved a Yankee victory.
The choice of Stanton to start was notable as he had previously appeared in 552 games as reliever without, as I noted, starting. The start represented a new record, breaking the previous one held by Gary Lavelle who went 443 games before his first start. And here's something I just thought of: assuming Stanton stays reasonably healthy and effective, this season he should cross the barrier of five hundred games after his first (and only) start, which is probably also a record. Mike Stanton: most games pitched in before his first start, and most games pitched in without a start after. Might not go on a Hall of Fame plaque, but it's still a pretty good accomplishment.